Investigating the Effects of a Six-week Cooking Intervention on Cooking and Dietary Behaviors among Low-income Families
Background and Purpose: Healthy eating practices have been associated with prevention of chronic diseases. There is limited information about strategies for healthy eating practices among families. The current study examined the effectiveness of Get Cookin’, a six-week intervention consisting of nutrition education and hands-on cooking and tasting activities among low-income families. Methods: Lowincome adults participated in Get Cookin’, a six-week intervention consisting of nutrition education and hands-on cooking activities. Ninety-six participants completed a retrospective survey which examined their meal planning, budgeting and cooking behaviors, as well as fruit and vegetable consumption. Thirteen graduates of the program participated in focus groups. The Wilcoxon signed ranks test was used to examine pre-to-post changes. Results: Participants showed significant improvements in meal planning and budgeting skills. They started cooking meals at home more frequently and increased consumption and variety of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Focus groups revealed that participants shared cooking and nutrition information and skills learned with their families. Additionally, participants with diverse backgrounds gained a sense of empowerment to overcome personal challenges to make healthy choices. Conclusions: Nutrition education, combined with cooking and tasting activities, appears to have a positive impact on healthy behaviors among low-income families. Further research with a control group would be needed to more definitively understand the effectiveness of the Get Cookin’ intervention.